Egypt announced on Wednesday that a ceasefire had been reached to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, starting later in the day.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made the announcement in a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The ceasefire would come into effect at 1900 GMT, said Amr, whose country has been at the heart of efforts to broker an end to the conflict.
“Egypt has made great efforts … since the start of the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip,” Amr said.
“These efforts and contacts have resulted in understandings to cease fire and restore calm and halt the bloodshed that the last period has seen,” he added.
“Egypt calls on all to monitor the implementation of what has been agreed under Egypt’s sponsorship and to guarantee the commitment of all the parties to what has been agreed,” he said.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday spoke with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, praising his efforts to help broker a ceasefire in the conflict flaring in the Middle East, the White House said.
Under the Egyptian-brokered agreement, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire after more than a week of fighting in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis.
Obama also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and commended him for agreeing to the Egyptian government’s ceasefire plan in the Middle East, the White House said.
“The President expressed his appreciation for the Prime Minister’s efforts to work with the new Egyptian government to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and a more durable solution to this problem,” a White House statement said.
Obama reiterated his commitment to Israel’s security and also said he was committed to seeking funds for joint missile defense programs.
Clinton said on Wednesday the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza had come at a crucial time for countries of the Middle East.
“This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone for regional stability and peace,” she said at a joint news conference with her Egyptian counterpart, Mohamed Kamel Amr.
She also thanked Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Mursi for his mediation efforts and pledged to work with partners in the region “to consolidate this progress, improve conditions for the people of Gaza, provide security for the people of Israel”.